Books I think everyone should read, at least once

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D Salinger

Ok, so maybe this isn’t guaranteed to be everyone’s cup-of –tea, but then again which book is? The main gist of it is the life of Holden Caulfield but in 24 hours, granted it is 200 pages so you’d think it’d be waffle but honestly I never thought it was. He has been expelled from school and is wasting time before breaking the bad news to his parents and wasting money on drink, taxis and prostitutes. It is well written, no matter what people argue! The evidence is in that he never had to write another book because this book made him so much money! It will provoke a reaction amongst the reader, you will both love Holden Caulfield and find you relate with him or you will hate him and think it is a whiney teenager with a bad attitude. Either way, you know a book is good when you have a strong reaction towards the characters. And one final thing to ponder is just where do the ducks go when the river has frozen over?

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This is Plath’s only novel which I say is a shame as she was such a talented author. She wrote mainly poetry (which I would also recommend a read of) but this novel cannot be overlooked. It is semi-autobiographical as the narrator explores events in their lives. It’s the feeling of being inside a bell jar as though the world is going on around them and they have no control, it is as though they are merely observers of their own life. It has everything nasty about human nature portrayed it in but in a decent manner, believe it or not. The Bell Jar has been said to have been a very feminist novel (guys, don’t switch off now!) and I can see why as it has her blatant dislike for marriage but also somehow ties in lesbianism. The only thing is, it is obvious someone to going to commit suicide in this novel, but perhaps the person who is not quite the one you’d expect. It’s a good read, trust me. And besides who hasn’t felt like they are in a bell jar before?

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

I mainly picked this one because it is a classic, not only this it is a dystopian classic. Just trust me on this once, ok? I cannot get blunter than this. Ok, so it won’t be the best read of your life, but it is still a good one! When you begin to read it the middle may catch you off guard, that’s a highlight I suppose. Orwell, I’d say, writes this genre well, better than Aldous Huxley did in Brave New World, but that is just my opinion. In my opinion you should avoid Brave New World if you possibly can, it’s virtually impossible to “get into”.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Through and through, this is a masterpiece. The characters are well thought out, ranging from the sweet, loveable Catherine to Heathcliffe the pitiful but dangerous man. Despite it being written a long time ago it is easy to read, which should encourage you even more to read it, although I am not entirely sure if the amount of references to “erect” in the first chapter are really appropriate. Many people who I have spoken to about this said they couldn’t read it because they hated Heathcliffe so much, now what have said before reader, when a book provokes that within you it proves it is well written…and entirely worth your time. One of my favourites and it should be one of yours to!

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of my childhood favourites and verging on my favourite book, you truly are never too old for this book. Personally ever since reading it I have wanted to visit Narnia and I suppose you could argue that’s the way the novel makes you feel. It has a definite theme of hope running throughout which I like. It has religious connotations but if you’re not religious these can very easily be ignored however for those who are this adds to reading this book. It encapsulates childhood and it’s naivity, but also the hope children feel. I think it will unleash the “big kid” within you! I know when I first got this book at a very young age and speed read it in about two days, I know you’ll love it too!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games the subject of teenage hype but please don’t let that put you off. Believe me it’s nothing like Twilight and never should it turn into that, I would never recommend a book like that to you. It’s dystopian, a lot like Orwell, but drew me in was the clever concept. That’s the word to describe it…clever. I read a little bit about the inspiration for writing the novel and she was simply flicking through news channels, which is scary if you read it and actually think about the implications that has upon us as a society. This book is thought-provoking and life-affirming, I guarantee you’ll be completely happy with your life after reading this! Warning: once you start you won’t be able to put it down!

The Kite Runner by Klaled Hosseini

Beautifully written. I don’t know how much of the history is true in this book, hopefully not much as it is brutal, but it is fiction so take that into consideration. It is set in Afganistan…don’t expect to know everything about the place afterwards but it is an excellent read nonetheless. A friend recommended it to me and I’m glad they did. I had so much sympathy for the characters and at times, I was crying due to the circumstances they found themselves in. Parts in the novel were disturbing and it isn’t particularly pleasant, but bad things happen in the world, very often to the nicest people. That sums the book up. Wrong things happening to the wrong people. Many people don’t like the main character because they say he is selfish but in his position I don’t think many people would have acted much differently. And if you like this, well then A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author is also very good!

The Collector by John Fowles 

Disturbing. Weird. Psychological. Thriller. Don’t expect this to make you feel happy but it is definitely one you should read. I read it and although it kind of worries you at the time what humans are capable of the ending is good and it is a book which makes you want to find out more. It’s about a man with a mental illness who is fixated by this girl, wins the lottery and then forces her to live with him. Obviously there is more to it than that and I have by no means spoilt the plot for you! It’s probably better you know before you begin reading! Fowles use of langauge meant that I felt sorry for the characters and at the same time feared them and what they could do. I loved the character of Miranda because she had such a different way of looking at the world, she also had an astonishingly positive outlook on life despite her circumstances. I guess you could say, she had hope.

The Book Thief by Marus Zusak

This book I recommend because of its social context, set in Nazi Germany it is guaranteed to provoke some sort of reaction, despair, shock, surprise, sadness. Although it is an uncomfortable subject to read about, the author adds an interesting narrator, being death. This possibly makes it more uncomfortable as it makes the sheer scale of the event more horrendous. It is an interesting narrator which is quite unlike any novel I have ever read before. Most of all, however, the characters are well thought out and all have a unique personality which will make you empathise with them. From the accordionist to the Hitler-obsessed-shop-keeper, this book has diversity which brings interest.

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

This is probably one of my favourite pieces of American Literature that I have read. It highlights the problem of racism in Alabama and shows the beginning of the Civil Right Movement in America. It is an interesting story, with characters who I believe we can all learn a lot from. It is written in a way that has been carefully calucated and presents ideas that have been pondered in detail. I think it shows how the line “Men are all created equal” in the US constitution to be flawed and how we should embrace the fact that we are not equal. It also shows how childhood is forgotten by adults and shows how a young girl could still formulate her own ideas firmly which actually had a lot of sense to them. I think a lot of the time children manage to put forward the best arguements because they are not prejudice. My favourite quote from it is “I was born good and have got progressively worse every year”, which comes from Scout who is 9 and sums up human existance perfectly.



  1. robstroud · April 6, 2012

    Quite an eclectic list!

    • Hayley · April 6, 2012

      Thank you for commenting 🙂 I wanted to add some others to the list but thought I should probably read them before I did!

  2. Pingback: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak « Sunsets and Fireworks

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